Your Guide to London Bethnal Green
Where is Bethnal Green?
You can explore the 60’s stomping ground of the gangland bosses The Kray Twins and the birthplace of Carry On star Barbara Windsor if you come to Bethnal Green. This increasingly popular, lively and cosmopolitan area of the East End of London (in the London borough of Tower Hamlets) is surrounded by places like Hackney, Shoreditch, Mile End, Whitechapel and Spitalfields. Situated outside the congestion charging zone, in tube zone 2, you’ll find it easy to travel around central London from here thanks to Bethnal Green Tube Station and Bethnal Green Train Station.
History of Bethnal Green
Originally known as Blithehale or Blythenhale (which comes from Anglo Saxon words meaning happy corner), Bethnal Green was marshland and forest until a small settlement took hold there in the 16th century. Incessant growth took place in the 19th century thanks to the abundance of cheap labour for the silk weaving trade, and then boot, furniture and clothing manufacture. Once palatial family homes quickly turned into desolate rundown buildings and by the end of the 19th century Bethnal Green was known as one of the poorest slums in London, and one of Jack the Ripper’s hunting grounds.
To add to Bethnal Green’s aura of deprivation the world’s first council housing, Boundary Estate, opened here in 1900. Severely bombed during World War II and famous for being the stomping ground of the Kray Twins in the 1960’s, it wasn’t until the beginning of this century that Bethnal Green started its gentrification into an increasingly popular area of the East End and a thriving centre for contemporary art. Its diverse population, from traditional Cockneys to Bangladeshi’s and young gifted artists, has created a vibrant and totally unique destination that you will love exploring!
The Positives of Bethnal Green
Thanks to Bethnal Green’s diversity, this is a unique place to stay. One minute you can be eating traditional East End pie and mash, the next wandering past designer Asian clothes stores and art galleries. Even if you’re coming to London for business in the City or Docklands, Bethnal Green is really close by and hotels are far cheaper. You can walk from here to the bustling nightlife of places like Shoreditch and Brick Lane, so you don’t have to put up with the noise at night time either! As Bethnal Green has its own tube station and Bethnal Green Train Station, you’ll find it incredibly easy to explore central London from here too.
Need to Know Bethnal Green
As Bethnal Green has been associated with severe poverty and crime in the past, it is finding it hard to shake off these stigmas. The presence of council estates in the area only contributes to this, but they don’t stretch as far and wide as other areas of East London. Also, the influx of young gifted artists and professionals into the area has really aided the process of regeneration and helped to create a buzz in Bethnal Green that tourists like you should take time to experience. Some would say that the increasingly cosmopolitan nature of the area has destroyed the true Cockney East End vibe, but you will still find it here!